Classical CD Reviews

Canciones españolas = Works of FALLA, RODRIGO & GRANADOS – Bernarda Fink, mezzo – Harmonia mundi 902133

A primary recommendation for all who love Spanish sing, sung with love and evident affinity for the music.

Published on December 28, 2012

Canciones españolas = Works of FALLA, RODRIGO & GRANADOS –  Bernarda Fink, mezzo – Harmonia mundi 902133

Canciones españolas = FALLA: Siete canciones populares españolas; Trois melodies; El pan de Ronda que sabe a verdad; Tus ojillos negro; RODRIGO: Tres canciones españolas; Cuatro canciones sefardies; Coplas del pastor enamorado; Cancion del cucu; Fino cristal; Cuatro madrigals amatorios; GRANADOS: Tonadillas en estilo amatorios – Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano/ Anthony Spiri, p. – Harmonia mundi HMC 902133, 66:08 ****:

Bernarda Fink is one of the “cleanest” singers I know; while the technical rat-a-tat-tat virtuosity of someone like Cecilia Bartoli is certainly not her thing, she is also not bound to a small-voiced repertory that Bartoli has admittedly felt constrained by. But like Bartoli, she revels in the ideas of great lieder singing, and Harmonia mundi evidently agrees with this goal—this is, if I count correctly, the ninth such album they have released together, making Fink one of the premiere lieder artists on record today.

The Spanish cancióne lírica (art song) is the equivalent of the lieder or French chanson, and in the 20th century particularly was brought to a pinnacle of perfection by the three composers represented on this disc. Not surprisingly, all three had especial associations with France—Granados studied piano with Bériot, Falla enjoyed the support and encouragement from Debussy and Dukas, while Rodrigo also enjoyed intensive studies with Dukas. The Spanish/French connection of the twentieth century, whether by composers from the former or latter, is something remarkable in the annals of music history, though it must be said that the particular felicities of Spanish culture proved the dominating stylistic trend for both, though we would be remiss to not acknowledge the influence to a degree of impressionism on the Spaniards, though quite modified and far more subtle.

Fink and alert accompanist Anthony Spiri are quite at home in this music, and provide us with what might just become a primer album in Spanish song. Don’t pay any attention to a recent review of this release in The Guardian by Tim Ashley, who claims that Fink is too ladylike in Falla’s Siete Canciones Populares Españolas; It has been a long time since Victoria de los Angeles or even the young (her debut album) Shirley Verret tackled these songs, are we are long overdue for someone who has this stuff in their blood, singing with an innate and native sensibility that adds color and life to this music. Fink does, make no mistake, and this is a wonderful disc, including the Falla!

– Steven Ritter




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